Every year we face the same dilemmas – Do we go to our favourites, the ones we know and love, where the kids feel at home?
Or do we try out some new ones, potentially discover something amazing, and widen our knowledge of great festivals to recommend to all you lovely families out there?
We’re very lucky in that we get invited to far more than we can manage to attend… but the reality is that with kids (or even without kids) it’s just too tiring (and expensive!) so we’ve had to learn to pick and choose.
Here are the festivals we’ve picked this year and why:
Land of Kids – The Creative Day One (London: 6 May)
Naomi says: “We’re very excited about this one. It’s a day event, so no camping, but it definitely feels like a festival. There are some fabulous activities on offer and I’m especially excited about getting involved in Punchdrunk’s exploits (I even wrote about this in my Immersive Theatre for Kids blog). Weather is looking fab too – what a great way to start the season!”
WOOD – The Cosy Eco One (Oxfordshire: 17-19 May)
Romany says: “We’ve never been to WOOD before but friends have, and they raved about it. The non-corporate eco-aware ethos really appeals to me. Wonderful workshops, great music, gorgeous site and it’s perfect for free-roaming kids. We’ve been banging on about it, but it’s about time we actually got some first hand knowledge!”
Sunrise – The Ethical One (Somerset: May 30 – 2 June)
Sam says: “A new one for us but having looked into what Sunrise is all about we liked what we saw! Ethical – Sustainable – Inspirational – Innovative is how they see themselves and judging by the awards they have already received they’re right! Dub Pistols and Simian Mobile Disco announced as headliners, & I know of a certain 5 year old who can’t wait to see The Freestylers! From birth and toddlers through to teens Sunrise kids area promises to reach an all time buzzing high in 2013!”
Wychwood – The Easy Family One (Gloucestershire: 31 May – 2 June)
Vicky says: “A new one for us but the line up looks great and we couldn’t pass on the opportunity to see Bill Bailey! I think my son is going to really enjoy the Children’s Authors and I’m looking forward to being able to drive to the campsite to set up – a rare luxury at a festival! Oh, and they have Hot Tubs…!”
Blissfields – The Small One (Hampshire: 5-7 July)
Naomi says: “Blissfields has a great lineup, including Bastille, and I’m looking forward to being able to chill a bit more at this one as it’s fairly small. It also has the fantastic Angel Gardens running the kids’ area and I’m excited to be able to finally meet them!”
Nibley – The Village-Fete-y One (Gloucestershire: 6th July)
Romany says: “We’ve been once before, the kids had a ball and it was very relaxing, safe and budget-friendly. There is only one day of festival yet you can camp for two nights meaning that you have plenty of time to settle in and enjoy the camping aspect of it without feeling like you are missing out an any of the action. My husband and our 8yr old are big Wonderstuff fans too so they’re exceptionally excited… but it’s King Charles and By The Rivers that are doing it for me!”
Larmer Tree – Romany’s Family Favourite (Dorset/Wilts: 17-21 July)
Romany says: “To us, Larmer Tree is almost the perfect festival. We’ve been going for years and it has become the one that we HAVE to do. There’s such a wide variety of music and workshops there that something appeals to each of us and we all end up happy. Very excited about KT Tunstall and Van Morrison, but we’ve always seen incredible performances from bands we’d never heard of before and come back each year with new favourites and enduring memories.”
Latitude – Sam’s Family Favourite (Suffolk: 18-21 July)
Sam says: “For us Latitude is our must do festival. So much more than just a music festival. For grown ups it offers a multitude of arts: – music – comedy – literature – film – cabaret – poetry – theatre, and the list goes on! For the kids the children’s arena is an entire festival of its own! With so much on offer the only worry is how to fit it all in? And with the added bonus of being surrounded by the most amazingly beautiful & truly magical woodland, Latitude really does have it all!”
Penn – The Good Times One (Buckinghamshire: 19-21 July)
Karon says: “Last year was incredibly muddy, but we still had a great time! There are some really big names from the 80/90s on the bill to ensure lots of kids laughing at embarrassing parent dancing and plenty of feel good vibes. It’s small, manageable with kids, friendly and fun, and in a beautiful countryside location. Really hoping to do this festival without all the mud this time though! 😉
WOMAD – The Educational & Entertaining One (Wiltshire: 25 – 28 July)
Sam says: “World of Music, Arts and Dance bringing together artists from all over the globe. Their aim to bring you family orientated, diverse & active musical event, promising to excite, inform and create awareness of the worth and potential of a multicultural society. Activities for children include both educational and entertaining workshops. Looking forward to the procession on Sunday with the children’s creations on show for all to see: 2013 theme is Floating & Flying!”
Secret Garden Party – The Party Till You Drop One (Cambridgeshire: 25 – 28 July)
Vicky says: “We are really excited about this one. The website alone is so beautifully put together we can only imagine how gorgeous the festival is going to be. It’s got a really good line-up. I know it’s going to have so much for children to experience, and I will not want to sleep a wink in fear of missing seeing something wonderful.”
Nozstock – The Eclectic Small One (Herefordshire: 26-28 July)
Vicky says: “I’ve always wanted to check this one out. Over the last 15 years it’s grown from a tiny gathering of friends into a proper little festival intriguingly described as a ‘curious amalgamation of performance, art, electronic supersounds and good old-fashioned guitar-strumming and drum-bashing’! Kid’s stuff looks fun too…”
Standon Calling – The ‘All About the Vibe’ One (Hertfordshire: 2-4 Aug)
Sam says: “This will be our 4th year at Standon Calling, we just can’t keep away! This year’s theme is ‘Running Away from the Circus’ and our creative juices have already gone into overdrive! Headliners have been announced as De La Soul and Band Of Skulls. There is the nightclub in a cowshed that never seems to close, a swimming pool my teenage daughter never seems to be out of, this year they’re offering even more in their kid’s area, including Mr Reggae Nursery Rhymes returns, a personal favourite of ours!”
Boomtown Fair – The Crazy One (Hampshire: 8-11 August)
Louise says: “We can do crazy and wild – that’s just how we roll. Boomtown is a non-stop party of fun and awesome beats. There’s a kid’s town too but I know my kids will be as happy grooving to ska and skiffle, and running feral in the surreal temporary city. This is a new one for us and we’re very excited indeed!
Croissant Neuf – The Circus One (Monmouthshire: 8-11 August)
Naomi says: “My favourite part of Glastonbury has always been the circus and alternative fields. Croissant Neuf have run circus tents at many festivals I’ve been to, and their own festival looks like a perfect blend of circus, entertainment and kids activities. I love that it’s solar powered too – they’ve won the Greenest Festival Award no less than 3 times.”
Wilderness – Vicky’s Family Favourite (Oxfordshire: 9-11 August)
Vicky says: “I cannot begin to explain in just a few lines how much we loved this festival last year. Without a doubt it was the highlight of the year and I couldn’t imagine not going again this year and probably forever from now on. The line up is a great one but to be honest Wilderness is so much more than that. Everything from the facilities, children’s area, food options, the layout, even the dreaded festival toilets are great at Wilderness. I LOVE it!”
Lakefest – The Water Fun One (Gloucestershire: 9-11 August)
Karon says: “This one got fab feedback last year so we thought we better try it out and see what all the fuss is about. The line-up includes The Levellers and Ocean Colour Scene, it’s weather-friendly with an enormous marquee, and they’ve teamed up with a great bunch of people for the kid’s area and there’s even watersports on site – so all that will keep me and my boy happy!”
*WIN Lakefest Tickets*
Green Man – The Relaxing One (Wales: 15-18 August)
Vicky says: “We live only a stones throw from Green Man so have heard a lot about it. I’m really interested to find out what its like we have heard lots of wonderful things about it and it will be lovely being able to review a local festival.I understand it is in beautiful surroundings and we plan to make this one a relaxing one and spend lots of time in the little folk area that looks great.”
Just So Festival – The Creative Family One (Staffs: 16-18 August)
Romany says: “This festival is a feast of the Arts for families. So much hands-on participation and opportunities to indulge your imagination… we really can’t wait to experience such an immersion in creativity and have fun together as a family. This one feels like a real treat for us.”
Beautiful Days – The Aspirational One (Devon: 16-18 August)
Naomi says: “I’ve always wanted to go to this one! I’ve loved the Levellers since I was 16 and I’ve been to see them live so many times (the most recent being last year!). I have heard such great things about this festival, especially the fact that it’s done for the love of it and not for the commercial world. I would really love to get the chance to go this year.”
Shambala – Naomi’s Family Favourite (Northamptonshire: 22-25 August)
Naomi says: “We went last year and we loved it so much I don’t think we can imagine another year without it. They’ve got the vibe exactly right – a mixture of good music, arts and activities, with just enough to do without it being too big. There’s also a real family feel for a medium sized festival. But for us it’s the family yurt that is so special – it provides a hub for those with children, an oasis of calm away from the main site and a centre of friendliness and belonging. My eldest daughter made friends there that she’s quite likely to see every year and when the festival became too much for my toddlers it was somewhere special to go where they could calm down and feel safe.”
LodeStar – The End of Summer One (Cambridgeshire: 30 Aug – 1 Sept)
Louise says: “This is another new one for our family. It looks like a great way to wind down the holidays… very spacious and relaxed but with some really great bands on the line-up there’s sure to be a whole lot of dancing too!
End Of The Road – The ‘Always Wanted To Do’ One (North Dorset: Aug 30 – 3 Sept)
Sam says: “EOTR is an intimate festival with a friendly & relaxed feel. With emphasis placed on encouraging bands to get involved and participate in all areas of the festival – the fact that EOTR takes pride in the little things that make the festival feel special – that the dedicated children & family area will offer more performances, workshops & activities than ever before- all means I’m looking forward to ending our family festival season on a high!”
Which ones are you going to and why did you pick them?
Tell us by commenting below!…
Which ones are you going to and why did you pick them?
Tell us by commenting below!…
(If you have very young children read our special Best Festivals for Toddlers list)